Editor: Alisa Johnson just finished her rookie season as a professional angler. You could certainly say it ended on a high note- Alicia won the multi-day Lady Bass Anglers Association Classic on Caddo Lake in Louisiana. While still pinching herself to make sure it wasn’t a dream, Alisa sat down with our Kevin Carwile to reflect on where she has been and where she is going with her fishing career.
iBass360: So you are the Lady Bass Classic Champion. How does that feel?
Alisa: No question about it, I’m on a high, and it has not really soaked in yet. The emotions of being on that stage, not only representing me but representing women anglers, are real and raw. I knew the competition was going to be close but you do not expect it to come down to ounces. I was fortunate to have had my limit by 9am on the final day, so I was able to settle down and look for upgrades. So thankful
it paid off.
iBass360: What were the baits that led to lifting that 1st place trophy?
Alisa: Although I used a few different presentations to catch them, mostly I went with my favorite- the wacky-rigged Senko. I used this presentation to cut my teeth as a co- Angler- it’s my comfort bait . I have a great mentor and best friend in Pro Angler Pam Ridgle. She taught me the skill of wacky and how to skip the bait.
iBass360: Do you have a favorite style of fishing and did it work for you on Caddo?
Alisa: I consider myself a shallow-water angler. This being my Rookie year, there were times I had a hard time putting a limit together. I would have some good practice days that would give me confidence leading into the tournament, only to come up short a fish or two of a limit on
tournament days. I always check out docks in shallow water 5 to 7 ft., but it was when I made sure there was deeper water close by and started to concentrate on structure like old road beds that I started getting my limit.
iBass360: As you said, it came down to ounces, what do you think made the difference for you on Caddo?
Alisa: I knew going into the tournament that the Caddo water level was a couple feet low, and that Caddo was a lake with lots of grass, salvinia and lilly pads. This allowed me to capitalize on a few top water frog bites along with working some deeper trees with the wacky in 4 to 4 1/2 foot of water- I call these deep trees . The Gary Yamamoto Senko green pumpkin with red and black flake and black with red flake worked well despite the fact that we experienced all types of weather over the three days. What I found was that the fish wanted the Senko.
iBass360: Now you are the LBAA Classic Champion. How did you go about getting to this level?
Alisa: Over the past few days, couple of weeks, I guess, I have felt like the poster child for the LBAA. When I started out, just being able to fish a tournament with the Lady Bass Angler Association (LBAA) was an honor for me. I started as a co-angler and it took a lot of time and patience to learn skills and learn how to tournament fish as a co-Angler. I was able to save time off from work so I started fishing the LBAA wild card tournaments and eventually was able to win a few and finish high enough in the points to qualify for the Classic. That was always my goal- qualify for the Classic. The past 5 years I have been able to fish the entire circuit as a co- Angler and was fortunate enough to qualify for the Classic. I was runner up as a Co-Angler in 2016. It just added fuel to my fire. I told myself “you can do this”, and I set a goal to be Co -Angler of the Year for 2017. I put in the time and effort and I am proud of the fact that I was the first co-Angler to win back to back Co-Angler of the year awards in 2017 and 2018. This gave me the confidence to move over to the Boater side, and I bought a 21 ft. Skeeter.
With that, I moved to the Pro side.
iBass360: How do you think this experience has affected you?
Alisa: To me success is not always measured by wins, not even by cashing a check or holding a trophy at the end of the day . I never take a day on the water for granted. Success for me has always been the willingness to learn, adjust, adapt and overcome whatever challenges have been put in front of me. I feel my success has been in always being prepared, always fishing my strength and in being consistent. That is how I manage the stress. When the stress starts to build, I start to lose focus. That’s when I call on one
of my favorite bible verses- Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you, said the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. This centers me and allows me to tell everyone I talk to that if I can do it, they can too. One of the many things I love about the LBAA is that it has introduced me to a group of women who are more than competitors. Together, we are like a family. I know I can call anyone of these ladies if ever I need anything. The friendships I have made through the LBAA are life-long friends that stretch across the nation .
iBass360: Success seldom comes with out some sacrifices. What has been the hardest for you?
Alisa: For me the sacrifices happen back home. I have one motto- “Work hard so I can fish harder”. That means a lot of overtime and extra shifts. But I am also a wife, a mom of three college students, a homemaker and a daughter. No shortage of demands. But I am so thankful that we have a Ladies fishing circuit where we all share a passion for fishing and competition. It
gives us a stage to compete . Cheryl Bowden and Secret York saw the need 10 years ago when other women’s Pro circuits collapsed, and they joined forces. Through their hard work and dedication they gave us LBAA . I don’t think people understand the need for a women’s circuit, but most of us on the LBAA are in the same boat- anglers who don’t really have the financial support to fish for a living. Most of us are hard working women with non-fishing jobs and responsibilities like being wives, mothers, companions and caregivers. The fact that LBAA is a family makes the burdens lighter through shared experiences.
iBass360: What about sponsorship. Is there money available for LBAA anglers? How have you used social media in your promotion?
Alisa: Sponsorship can be a little overwhelming. For me, doing homework is very important when deciding about a company as a potential sponsor. I have to use, trust and believe in my sponsors' products. I’m not just trying to fill space on a jersey. It’s also not just about what a
sponsor can do for me. I need to see how I can help promote them. That comes easy when you actually use the products. It’s easy to talk about them when you can explain how they have helped with my success.
Social media is tricky. I always want to be seen as being a professional. I try to keep this in the front of my mind when I post pics or comments. No company wants a lot of drama. Hashtags and tagging them in your posts is important. As you fish tournaments, you meet a lot of new people, and you just never know where that first impression may lead. Whether it is your persona on-line or your first impression in person, it is not something you can “do over”- those first impressions pretty much last forever.
iBass360: What would you like the iBass360 Nation to understand about women anglers?
Alisa: I think Lady Anglers are not taken very seriously sometimes. I want to work to change this perception. Believe me, I’m just as passionate and hard working on and off the water as anglers
in the FLW, Elites or MLF. I have learned that when it comes to fishing, the fish don’t care if you’re a man or woman, whether you are young or old, and whether you are fishing from the latest model or an older boat. They are just fish, and if you don’t get out there and put a bait in the water you’re not going to catch them. Serious anglers do their homework, they take notes, study the impact of weather conditions, water temperatures, cloud cover, the time of day and time of year. If you study how to fish these conditions you are a serious angler- doesn’t matter if you are fishing on a boat, off a dock, or from the bank. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t fish because of this or that, and don’t find reasons yourself as to why you can’t fish. if you want it, and you have that fire, that passion and desire to fish then go find solutions to make it happen- just go fishing and always have fun. Fishing ALWAYS should be fun. If you’re an Angler- woman or man- and you don’t know if you’re ready for the next step- maybe it’s considering whether to be a Boater- you will never know unless you challenge yourself to let go of the dock and put a
boat in the water. Follow your passion and don’t let someone else cause you to hold onto the dock. Let go of what is holding you back and go fishing!
iBass360: Any final advice to women, or men, looking to move their fishing to the next level?
Alisa: Yes, set goals. I always have a goal. This year my goal was to qualify for the Classic in my Rookie year as a boater. I sure never thought I would win it. For 2020 I will have a few goals. I want to learn some new techniques to expand my capabilities under varying conditions. I also
want to work on using my electronics for specific situations- like when to drop shot for example. I would love to win at least one tournament and establish myself as a consistent Pro. We are going to some big bodies of water next year- Toledo Bend, Hartwell, Pickwick- so these goals are essential to my success.
Editor: We deeply appreciate Alisa's time,and we look forward to more collaborations as she, and her daughter move forward towards achieving their fishing goals. #LiveThePassion